Robin McKie: idiot

Antarctica is the coldest, most desolate place on Earth, a land of barren mountains buried beneath a two-mile thick ice cap. Freezing winds batter its shores while week-long blizzards frequently sweep its glaciers.

Yet this icy vision turns out to be exceptional. For most of the past 100 million years, the south pole was a tropical paradise, it transpires.

\”It was a green beautiful place,\” said Prof Jane Francis, of Leeds University\’s School of Earth and Environment. \”Lots of furry mammals including possums and beavers lived there. The weather was tropical. It is only in the recent geological past that it got so cold.\”

Entirely true.

Might be worth mentioning that there were two reasons as well.

1) Changes in the Earth\’s temperature.

2) Changes in the location of Antarctica.

For example, several hundred million years ago the reason that Antarctica was a tropical paradise what that it was in the tropics.

But no, we only get the Earth\’s temperature change, nothing about plate tectonics and continental drift. Hell, the theory\’s only 50 years old as a generally agreed one so why should any journalist have heard about it?

6 thoughts on “Robin McKie: idiot”

  1. And was also a theory famous for savage attack from the scientific ‘consensus’ right up to the point where they turned 180 degrees.

    Perhaps the ‘consensus’ has changed again. Who knows?

  2. “For most of the past 100 million years, the south pole was a tropical paradise, it transpires.”

    Hang on, Antarctica moved about, the South Pole less so. Does he know the difference, or is he a journalist? Does he really believe that the South Pole was tropical?

  3. “the South Pole was tropical?”

    Lovely. Although humour would be up a notch if he’d used “equatorial”.

  4. You’re foaming at the mouth so much its hard to understand what you’re saying, other than a ritualised dislike of RMK. But if I look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica#Geological_history_and_paleontology I find:

    “Glaciation began at the end of the Devonian period (360 Ma), as Gondwana became centered around the South Pole and the climate cooled, though flora remained. During the Permian period, the plant life became dominated by fern-like plants such as Glossopteris, which grew in swamps. Over time these swamps became deposits of coal in the Transantarctic Mountains. Towards the end of the Permian period, continued warming led to a dry, hot climate over much of Gondwana… The cooling of Antarctica occurred stepwise, as the continental spread changed the oceanic currents from longitudinal equator-to-pole temperature-equalizing currents to latitudinal currents that preserved and accentuated latitude temperature differences.
    Africa separated from Antarctica around 160 Ma, followed by the Indian subcontinent, in the early Cretaceous (about 125 Ma). About 65 Ma, Antarctica (then connected to Australia) still had a tropical to subtropical climate, complete with a marsupial fauna. About 40 Ma Australia-New Guinea separated from Antarctica, so that latitudinal currents could isolate Antarctica from Australia, and the first ice began to appear.”

    So from that, as far as I can tell, movement of Antarctica hasn’t mattered much over the last 100 Ma; but I’m not a geologist. What makes you think it has moved?

  5. Recent quiz question in our village hall: How many continents were then when dinosaurs ruled the earth? Ans: 1.

    Also, the South Pole used to be the North Pole and there are some who believe that the magnetosphere is in the process of flipping again.

  6. I seem to recall from a Walking with Dinosaurs episode covering the Antarctic that continent was close to where it is now (ie. still cold (albeit not as much) and dark for months at a time.) during the late Jurassic. All of which suggests to me that the earth being warmer was a bigger factor than continental drift.

    Not that a pseudo documentary is much evidence, but I’m intrigued to be on the same side as William Connolley. I guess my Wikipedia ban must be in the post!

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